Dr. Eugenio and Victoria Erquiaga are accused of tying up their 12-year-old special-needs daughter and locking her in a urine-soaked playhouse inside their home in Sarasota, Florida (video below).
A neighbor reportedly called the police after the girl came to his home with her hands and ankles zip-tied on Dec. 27, 2015.
The child said that her parents would tie her up and place her in the playhouse, which is located in a loft area of the house.
A police report described the 5-by-7 foot playhouse as "aesthetically pleasing from the outside but can only be described as a glorified cage when examined closer," according to Fox 13.
“She wasn’t allowed to leave to use the restroom or anything like that," Lt. Joe Giasone told WTSP. "She would have to do all that inside the house, inside the little playhouse."
“I’m certain that many people in the public will say, 'Hey, that’s not how I would have handled it,' and everyone is entitled to their opinion regarding that," Derek Byrd, the Erquiaga's lawyer, said. "The question is, 'Is it criminal to handle a behavioral problematic child in that way?”
“The bottom line is the law says you can’t restrain or cage a child,” Giasone added.
Others kids in the family told police that their sister was tied up and locked in the playhouse. Now, all of the children are in the care of the state's Department of Children and Families.
The parents reportedly told deputies that they got the idea of tying up their daughter from watching a TV show, and they used the technique to protect their daughter and her siblings from their daughter's violent behavioral problems.
The couple recently surrendered themselves to the Sarasota County Jail, were charged with child abuse, and had their bail set at $5,000 each.